Archive for June, 2012

While reading an online article recently, I came upon this sentence:

After six years of dating and two children together, Matthew McConaughey finally popped the question to longtime girlfriend Camila Alves in December 2011.

I don’t know what anyone else thinks, but I think that once a couple has had two children together, their relationship is more than simply “dating” and that, as the mother of his children, she is much more than merely his “girlfriend”. Such terms are completely inadequate to describe the type of relationship they have. The dividing bar of single/legally married for what one calls the relationship and those involved in them no longer works in today’s world

Our language has failed to keep up with the current realities of modern relationships. Boyfriend/girlfriend are completely inadequate terms not just for relationships such as these, but for anyone past 25, in my opinion.  I’m in my 50s and calling a man of my own generation my “boyfriend” is beyond silly and ludicrous.

Similarly, “dating” does not work for any couple who is living together, with or without children. To me, someone who is merely dating does not live with their dating partner.

What do you think? What are your suggestions for better terms for modern relationships?

The only ones that even remotely work for me are “significant other” or “partner”, along with “partnership” to describe the relationship. Even these are inadequate, because of the businesslike aura to them, and because most people associate the word “partner” with same-sex relationships.  Nevertheless, they aren’t nearly as jarring as boy/girlfriend and dating.

To return to the original sentence that inspired this post, the author would have done better to word the sentence like this:

In December of 2011, Matthew McConaughey proposed to his partner, Camila Alves. The couple have been in a relationship for more than six years and have two children together.

This works much better as it not only gets rid of the inadequate terms of “dating” and “girlfriend”, it also removes the assumption that a legal marriage is or should be the goal of every intimate relationship (…finally popped the question) as well as the gratingly trite expression, “popped the question”.   Bubblegum pops, not questions.



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